Of Awful Connections, East German Primitives, and the New Black Berlin Wall. Germany and German History in African-American Literature
Darryl Pinckney’s Black Deutschland (2016), Paul Beatty’s Slumberland (2008), and John A. Williams’ Clifford’s Blues (1999) are three recent novels by African-American authors and with African-American protagonists that are set partly in Germany and that include references to events such as the Holocaust and German Reunification. The research project plans to take these novels as points of departure for an investigation that analyzes the images of Germany and German history in African-American literature from a transnational, comparative perspective.
Drawing on a theoretical framework that connects comparative imagology, Black Diaspora Studies, and the recent academic focus on (world) literature’s “multidirectional memory” (Michael Rothberg) and its “cosmopolitan style” (Rebecca Walkowitz), the project will focus on four historically diverse, cross-cultural discourses that are relevant in shaping the role of Germany and German history in African-American literature:
- the formation of a ‘‘canonic’’ African-American image of postromantic Wilhelminian Germany that started with William E. B. Du Bois’ student years in Berlin (1892–1894);
- the interwar period and the intertwining sub-discourses of the Old World as “racial haven” (R. Coles) for African-American intellectuals, and of Berlin as the “European capital of sexual libertinage”;
- National Socialism and its relations and parallels to racism in the U.S.;
- African-American perceptions of Germany as a divided and/or reunified country.
- The Fall of the Berlin Wall Transnational: Images and Stereotypes in Yadé Kara’s Selam Berlin and Paul Beatty’s Slumberland, in: Katharina Edtstadler, Sandra Folie, Gianna Zocco (eds.): New Perspectives on Imagology. Paderborn: Brill | Fink 2022, 131–150
- Love and Propaganda in W. E. B. Du Bois’s Novel Dark Princess, in: Gianna Zocco (ed.): The Rhetoric of Topics and Forms. Berlin: de Gruyter 2021, 115–126
- Black Transatlantic Literary Studies and the Case of James Baldwin, in: Kai Sina, Tanita Kraaz (eds.): Transatlantic Literary History: Notes | Essays | Documents, 12 Jan 2021
- Beidseits der Color-Line. Die lange Geschichte des Rassismus, in: Tagesspiegel, 31 Aug 2020
- A “Modest Monument” Awaiting Completion. Gianna Zocco Talks to Jean-Ulrick Désert and Dorothea Löbbermann about the W. E. B. Du Bois Memorial at the Humboldt University of Berlin, in: ZfL Blog, 16 Jul 2020
- “Sometimes things begin with the wrong book:” Images and Intertexts in Darryl Pinckney’s Black Deutschland, in: Norbert Bachleitner, Achim Hölter, John A. McCarthy (eds.): Taking Stock – Twenty-Five Years of Comparative Literary Research. Leiden/Boston: Brill 2019, 421–444
Sketches of Black Europe. Imagining Europe/ans in African and African Diasporic Narratives
Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Etage